'Labbydermot' : Wedge Tomb

Grid RefV 405 659
GPSV 40531 65939 (5m)
Longitude10° 18' 47.69" W
Latitude51° 49' 23.05" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownWaterville (9.8 Km)
OS Sheet83
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Saturday, 15th September 2007

It doesn't matter that this is a smallish wedge tomb ... it's wonderful! The 2m x 1.5m gallery retains its roof and is blocked by two slabs, with the northern one purposely left short to provide access to the inside. In front of the gallery there is an open-topped portico/ante-chamber formed with 3 slabs on each side.

The construction was well executed. The slope of the gallery roof-slab is continued perfectly by the rising height of the portico stones, the tallest of which is 1.5m high.

To the north, west and south hills rise up around the site, while to the east they extend over pasture to the bay and the mountains beyond. Both the monument's preservation and the location make this one of Ireland's little treasures.

At the time of my visit the field was occupied by a donkey. I wasn't sure how he'd take to me, but I approached anyway. He simply stood up and watched me go about my business. He did scare me half to death by braying in my ear at one point, but nothing more threatening than that. It's up to you if you want to risk the wrath of the wedge tomb guardian.

Wedge tombs are most easily catagorised by their main characteristic - they are taller and wider at the entrance than they are at the rear. Like court tombs they have a gallery which is split either by septal slabs or sill stones into smaller chambers. Galleries can be anything up to 8m in length.

The side walls are, uniquely, made of two rows of stones (three in some cases), which is refered to as double or triple walling. This double walling is perhaps the best feature to identify a wedge tomb by.

The roofs are constructed by laying large blocks or slabs across the gallery, resting on the tops of the walls.

They are often quite small, an amazing exception being Labbacallee (County Cork), one of the largest in Ireland. It is very rare to find a wedge tomb with its roof still in situ, although, occasionally, one or two of the roof slabs are present (see Proleek (County Louth)).

In some examples the roof would have extended beyond the front closing slab forming a portico at the front, which in a few specimens was split by a vertical stone place centrally in the entrance.

Like court tombs, portal tombs and passage tombs they were covered by a cairn, which, at many sites, it is still often possible to determine. A few, such as Burren SW (County Cavan), still retain a large proportion of the cairn.

Like this monument

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Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Wedge Tombs

About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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